Playing in the semifinals of Roland Garros, his favorite tournament in the world, Rafael Nadal did what he does best - make yet another opponent look ordinary. After defeating Diego Schwartzman in straight sets, the Spaniard will now play either Novak Djokovic or Stefanos Tsitsipas (at the time of writing) in his 13th final at claycourt Major.
Despite not being at his vintage best for some parts of the match, Rafael Nadal bullied Schwartzman in most of the big moments. That was a rather remarkable turnaround from the lopsided defeat he faced at hands of the Argentine in Rome last month.
Speaking in his press conference after the win, Rafael Nadal discussed his chances of winning a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title on Sunday. Nadal is currently just one shy of the record tally held by his good friend and rival Roger Federer.
Rafael Nadal on the need to improve his level in the final and the prospect of a record 20th Grand Slam title
The Spaniard is yet to drop a set this year, but still believes that his level is not good enough to deliver a jaw-dropping 13th French Open title.
“I took a step forward today but I need another one on Sunday,” Nadal said. “Today’s level won’t be enough.”
The conditions prevalent at Roland Garros this year have been a big topic of discussion, particularly with respect to whether they would blunt Rafael Nadal’s natural game. The new balls being used were also believed by some experts to be detrimental to the Spaniard.
The great champion that he is, Rafael Nadal has adapted (and more) to both these factors, and he remains the favorite to lift the title on Sunday. But the Mallorcan, despite his legendary record on this surface, refuses to be complacent.
Nadal believes that his level improved against Schwartzman but that he needs another one in the final, which would no doubt be the toughest match for him so far.
Rafael Nadal had a largely straightforward journey in the first week at Roland Garros. But in the second he has been pushed to an extent by both Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman. Both players upped their game against the King of Clay in certain moments, and found themselves in position to steal a set.
But Rafael Nadal refused to yield any ground, and displayed enormous grit to close out both matches in straight sets. The going was tough, but Nadal proved that he was tougher.
Speaking on those lines, the Spaniard highlighted the importance of 'suffering' to be able to make the final of a Grand Slam.
“You have to suffer,” Nadal said. "You can’t pretend to be in the final of Roland Garros without suffering.”
Rafael Nadal went on to talk about the prospect of equaling Roger Federer’s record tally of 20 Grand Slam titles, insisting that he wasn't motivated by the record itself. Rather, the Spaniard chose to express his delight at making yet another final in what was ‘the most important tournament of the year’ for him.
“I live my reality," Nadal said. "When we finish (reaching 20), we talk about that. For me, what matters at the moment is that I will play the final of the most important tournament of the year for me.”Published 10 Oct 2020, 00:44 IST